If you have a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), you're likely concerned about their well-being, and you must be looking for the best ways to support them. One commonly prescribed medication for ADHD is Adderall, a stimulant that most people erroneously think is the only way to support an ADHD brain.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Children and teens with ADHD often struggle with focusing, completing tasks, and managing their impulses. These challenges can affect their academic performance, social relationships, and overall quality of life.
While Adderall XR is an FDA-approved prescription medication commonly used to treat ADHD, it's one of those controlled substances with a high potential for drug abuse. It falls under the category of stimulant medications and is composed of amphetamine salts.
The primary goal of Adderall for people with ADHD is to help them improve their attention span, reduce impulsivity, and manage hyperactivity. It does so by affecting the central nervous system and certain brain chemicals, specifically the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine.
How Adderall Works in Children with ADHD
As a stimulant medication, Adderall intends to increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels to counter ADHD symptoms. But while doing so, it also causes short-term and more serious side effects. Some medically reviewed literature also shows how Adderall withdrawal symptoms can have a huge impact on one's health.
The most common side effects of this stimulant ADHD medication are the following:
Adderall Physical Side Effects
Adderall works in the brain, which means it may cause some physical side effects, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. These physiological changes can be concerning, especially for those with pre-existing heart conditions or high blood pressure.
Adderall Cognitive Side Effects
On the cognitive front, Adderall tries to enhance the cognitive function of children with ADHD. Its side effects include feelings of restlessness, agitation, or impaired cognitive function. The cognitive benefits of Adderall may vary in intensity and duration from person to person. When used by those without ADHD, it can have the opposite effect, potentially impairing cognitive abilities.
Adderall Emotional Side Effects
While Adderall can create a calming effect on some people with ADHD, certain individuals, particularly young adults, have reported experiencing suicidal thoughts while taking the medication. This side effect underscores the importance of careful monitoring by healthcare providers.
Other Potential Side Effects of Adderall for Children with ADHD
While all those potential side effects of Adderall are not to be taken lightly, there are other common side effects of this medication, which include weight loss and appetite suppression. Additionally, when it’s used at high doses or in individuals with underlying heart problems, there is a risk of serious side effects such as chest pain, heart attack, or even sudden death.
Managing ADHD and the Side Effects of Adderall
Some doctors may recommend Adderall for managing ADHD symptoms, but it's essential to consider natural solutions for brain health and improving attention as well. Such solutions are oftentimes better than medication and provide holistic support to your child or teen.
Here are some science-backed ways to support mental health naturally:
1. Good Sleep Hygiene
Encourage a consistent sleep schedule and create a sleep-friendly environment to ensure your child gets adequate rest. Develop a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it's time to wind down. Include activities like reading a book, taking a warm bath, or listening to soothing music.
2. Dietary Changes
Focus on a balanced diet rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium, which have been linked to improved cognitive function. Giving daily supplements to children with ADHD who are low in magnesium will make a big difference. It could help them with being less hyperactive, impulsive, and better at paying attention (Effatpanah et al., 2019).
Minimize consumption of sugary foods and drinks. High sugar intake can lead to energy crashes and worsen the side effects of stimulant drugs. Opt for healthier alternatives like water, herbal tea, or naturally sweetened beverages.
3. Lifestyle Changes
Promote regular exercise and physical activity to help manage hyperactivity and boost mood. Create a daily schedule that includes consistent wake-up times, meal times, and bedtime. This routine can provide structure and stability, which can be especially helpful for individuals with ADHD.
4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Consider therapy as an alternative to medication. CBT can teach valuable coping strategies for managing ADHD symptoms. Furthermore, stimulant medications can sometimes lead to increased stress and anxiety. CBT equips ADHD children with essential stress management techniques to reduce anxiety levels and prevent the exacerbation of side effects.
One study tested if CBT can help teenagers with ADHD who are already taking medicine. Those who got CBT had better scores than others on medication alone. Results show that CBT can help teens with ADHD who exhibit symptoms even while taking stimulant medication (Sprich et al., 2016).
5. Social Support
Social support refers to the network of family members, friends, peers, and healthcare professionals who provide emotional, practical, and informational assistance. Engage your child in social activities and maintain open communication to foster positive relationships.
Good social-emotional skills will help your child today but also in the future. Emotional regulation is the foundation for good attention and executive functioning. When one is dysregulated, you simply can’t think or take action.
6. Mindfulness and Stress Management
Mindfulness is the practice of staying fully present and aware of the moment without judgment. It involves paying attention to thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and the environment as they arise. Teach relaxation techniques and mindfulness practices to help your child manage stress.
In a study of 24 adults and 8 teens with ADHD try an 8-week mindfulness training program. Most of them finished the program and stated that their ADHD symptoms improved and they did better on tests that measure attention and thinking. Also, their feelings of anxiety and sadness improved (Zylowska et al., 2008).
As parents, it's natural to want the best for your child. The journey of managing ADHD can be challenging, but it's important to approach it with understanding, care, and love. Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Be patient, listen to your child's concerns, and involve them in decisions regarding their treatment.
It’s crucial to consider holistic approaches like the BrainBehaviorResetTM Program. While medications like Adderall can provide relief for many, a comprehensive approach that includes behavioral and lifestyle adjustments can be incredibly beneficial.
The BrainBehaviorResetTM Program focuses on addressing the root causes of ADHD symptoms, offering tools and strategies for individuals to better manage their condition. By incorporating neurofeedback, PEMF, magnesium supplementation, dietary adjustments, and other lifestyle changes, this program aims to provide a well-rounded support system for children and adolescents with ADHD.
Understanding the benefits and potential risks of stimulant medication is crucial for effective management. While Adderall works for some individuals with ADHD, it's essential to consider natural solutions for brain health and overall well-being.
Your child's journey may be filled with twists and turns, but with your unwavering support, they can navigate it with resilience and strength. Remember, you're not alone in all this. Together, we can help our children thrive without the need for SSRI or stimulant drug administration, which may have a lot of negative side effects at higher doses.
Parent Action Steps
☐ Learn about ADHD and natural ADHD treatment options
☐ Discuss your child’s ADHD symptoms with a healthcare provider.
☐ Prioritize open communication with your child to understand their experience with ADHD.
☐ Encourage a balanced lifestyle with a routine, a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep.
☐ Explore mindfulness and stress management techniques to help your child focus.
☐ Foster emotional support at home and consider involving a therapist for mood swings.
☐ Regularly monitor your child's progress with ADHD management.
☐ Celebrate your child's achievements, both big and small, to boost their self-esteem.
☐ Advocate for your child's needs in educational settings, ensuring they receive support.
☐ Take this ADHD Quiz to know if your child has ADHD or something else.
☐ Use the Solutions Matcher to get personalized treatment for your child.
Effatpanah, M., Rezaei, M., Effatpanah, H., Effatpanah, Z., Varkaneh, H. K., Mousavi, S. M., Fatahi, S., Rinaldi, G., & Hashemi, R. (2019). Magnesium status and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research, 274, 228–234. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2019.02.043
Sprich, S. E., Safren, S. A., Finkelstein, D., Remmert, J. E., & Hammerness, P. (2016). A randomized controlled trial of cognitive behavioral therapy for ADHD in medication-treated adolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57(11), 1218–1226. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12549
Zylowska, L., Ackerman, D. L., Yang, M. H., Futrell, J. L., Horton, N. L., Hale, T. S., Pataki, C., & Smalley, S. L. (2008). Mindfulness Meditation Training in Adults and Adolescents With ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11(6), 737–746. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054707308502
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